I just got back from a weekend getaway in St. Paul, Minnesota, where we attended the baptism of a good friend's newborn daughter, of whom we are privileged to be godparents. It's a beautiful city in a beautiful part of America.
When we walked into the sanctuary of the parish in which the baptism was to take place, and took our seats for mass beforehand, I was a bit befuddled by the curious fact that a couple seated next to us were cradling steaming cups of hot coffee in their hands. My curiosity melded into outright confusion when I realized that every family around us was sipping from styrofoam cups of coffee. And more than a few were enjoying, along with their coffee, large Krispy-Kreme donuts, with the fresh glaze still dripping off. And then, I saw the source of the morning refreshments. At the front of the sanctuary, about six feet due left of the raised altar, the entire wall consisted of a collapsible screen, which had been pulled back to reveal the broad counter, easily twenty foot in length, of a fully-stocked kitchenette, with coffee, tea, donuts, and a host of other breakfast items being offered to a burgeoning line of hungry parishioners, chatting as they sipped their morning fare. As the priest finally wandered into the sanctuary, the screen was rolled back, and the kitchenette temporarily closed, awaiting the end of the service to open up again.
The mass itself was all in due course, and the music, I must say, was quite beautiful, even if not traditional. The baptism also was very pleasant, although - here I must confess - when an hour had passed and we hadn't yet reached the second anointing, I made the experience a bit more enjoyable by helping myself to a late-morning cup of java.